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Fish Type: Lake Perch     Price: $14.00

Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.

Fish Score: Good
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Poor
Miscellaneous Score: Good

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Comment: I still haven't found the perfect Fish Fry. Sure, I've had hundreds of great ones, lots of good ones, and plenty of lousy ones, but I've yet to find that golden goose. It's one reason I keep searching for and trying new places as often as I can...because you just never know. This Friday our quest took us to the new(ish) Thirsty Goat down Fitchburg way.

The Goat is a really nice looking place, and has a really nice looking Friday Fish Fry to match. It consists of cod ($12), lake perch ($14), or All You Can Eat cod ($17). I was feeling a little fat this Friday after feasting at Toby's for lunch so I bypassed the AYCE in favor of the likely lighter lake perch. I was a little worried that the Goat would try to pass off ocean perch or European Zander as lake perch, but these fears turned out to be unfounded - this was the real deal yellow perch, no doubt about it. The small fillets were juicy and light and home to a crumbly breading with a boatload of flavor. Tons of seasoning took over the coating and harkened back to the fried chicken of a BBQ joint. The taste was tremendous, but unfortunately it just didn't stick to the slick fish at all. Huge chunks flaked off the surface leaving piles everywhere. Heaps of crumbs had to be scooped up separate from the fish and remarried on the palate. It was a bit clunky but really good when it actually stuck. There's no doubt in my mind, if they can figure out a way to make it fully adhere we'll be talking sheer excellence.

Like the fish, I found their claim of house-cut fries dubious for some reason. Those misgivings we're quickly set aside when I saw the spuds. The hearty portion was a mixed-bag of sizes complete with plenty of long johns and a few stubby nubbys. They were well-fried (which is hard to do with fresh cuts) and scrumptious. I should never have doubted the Goat and applaud the effort to do it right.

Their tartar also hit the mark and the cup lasted throughout the meal. It had the pop to offset the perch with no skunky aftertaste whatsoever. There was no bread, which was a bummer, but the mac-n-cheese made up for it. What's that you say? Mac-n-cheese? That's weird... It is, and I could have gone slaw (you can choose any two sides from their extensive list), but the mac sounded right. It turned out to be a sage decision as the ultra-smooth and creamy noodles soothed the bloated soul. It was rich and decadent, and really showed how boring Kraft is (we had a direct comparison too since junior got the Kraft version on the kid's menu for $6).

While perfection might be impossible to achieve, I'm usually happy with excellence, and am even appeased by unique goodness. The Thirsty Goat had the goodness, and the uniqueness, and was damn close to excellence. The fish was good, and if they can somehow find a way to make that batter stick there is no doubt in my mind we'd be talking excellence. The fries, mac-n-cheese, and tartar all brought the goods and makes me think there are better days ahead. Overall, we recommend this Fish Fry and will be back for sure. Next time we'll pack an appetite and see how the AYCE cod stacks up.
3040 Cahill Main
Madison, WI 53711

(608) 422-5500